WELCOME to the “Hermon A. MacNeil” — Virtual Gallery & Museum !

~ This Gallery celebrates Hermon Atkins MacNeil, American sculptor of the Beaux Arts School. MacNeil led a generation of sculptors in capturing many fading Native American images and American history in the realism of this classic style.

~ World’s Fairs, statues, public monuments, coins, and buildings across to country. Hot-links (on the lower right) lead to photos & info of works by MacNeil.

~ Hundreds of stories and photos posted here form this virtual MacNeil Gallery of works all across the U.S.A.  New York to New Mexico — Oregon to South Carolina.

~ 2016 marked the 150th Anniversary of Hermon MacNeil’s birth on February 27,

Take a Virtual Journey

This website seeks to transport you through miles and years with a few quick clicks of a mouse or keyboard or finger swipes on an iPad.

Perhaps you walk or drive by one of MacNeil's many sculptures daily. Here you can gain awareness of this artist and his works.

For over one hundred years his sculptures have graced our parks, boulevards, and parkways; buildings, memorials, and gardens; campuses, capitols, and civic centers; museums, coinage, and private collections.

Maybe there are some near you!

Jun
11

Marquette Statue in Chicago

By

MacNeil's bronze sculpture of Marquette with an Ilinois Indian on his right hand.

Today we took a short trip south from our daughter’s home in Logan Square here in Chicago.  We drove south down through Douglas Park on Sacramento Blvd to Marshall Blvd as it becomes West 24th Blvd. There we found the 85 year old bronze grouping of Pere Marquette, Louis Jolliete, and an Illinois Indian that faces the greenway of the boulevard.

Hermon Atkins MacNeil completed this sculpture in 1926 under a commission by the Benjamin Franklin Ferguson Monument Fund.  Between 1905 and 1931 the Fund placed ten sculptures throughout various parks and beltways of Chicago.

Benjamin Franklin Ferguson, an Chicago lumber baron, left a million dollars in his will of 1905 for the purpose of  “The erection and maintenance of enduring statuary and monuments, in whole or in part of stone, granite or bronze in the parks, along the boulevards or in other public places.”

The massive scale of the trio grouping of about 12 feet on a 6 foot pedestal is visible as one approaches the Monument along Marshall and 24th Avenue Boulevards.

Chicagoans pass by the Marquette Monument daily as it towers over the Boulevards.

The bronze rests on a stone base which has aged (along with the neighborhood) in the eighty-five years since the monument was placed along the busy parkway.

Moccassin detail of Illinois Indian.

MacNeil chose to portray a clean-shaven Marquette.  The many images commemorating the French priest vary in their depiction of his appearance.  Hundreds of monuments and statues stretch  across the path of Marquette’s 17th century missionary exploration of the central U.S. frontier.

Detail of Illinois indian's leg and mocassin shows the sculptor's attention to the human form.

While conducting research for her master’s thesis, Ruth Nelson fell in love with the story of St. Ignace founder Father Jacques Marquette and his exploration of the Great Lakes and Mississippi River. That admiration for Fr. Marquette history has led her around the Midwest learning things long forgotten by many. Her goal is to share what she learns with the many towns connected to Fr. Marquette.

As an art history major at the University of Illinois at Chicago, Ms. Nelson wrote her master’s thesis on the artwork in the lobby of the Marquette Building in downtown Chicago, focusing on the mosaic and bronze artwork centralized around Fr. Marquette and his travels.

Bibliography: Ruth Nelson: “Conflict and Resolution on Gilded Age Grandeur: The Artistic Program of the Marquette Building Interior,” University of Illinois at Chicago, Master’s Thesis, 2007

As mentioned in the May 22nd posting on this website, the MacNeil Relief Panels in the Marquette Building in Chicago Loop have been restored and reinstalled in the building edifice on Dearborn Street.

The Mackinaw Island Town Crier quoted Ms. Ruth Nelson as observing:

“We really don’t know what Marquette looks like, everyone has a different interpretation.”

In her years of research, Nelson has found that different statues of Fr. Marquette around the Great Lakes feature him differently.  “Some depict him clean-shaven or with a beard, bald or with a full head of hair, and still others feature him with a stern-looking facial expression or a calm demeanor.”

MacNeil chose a young Marquette, clean-shaven and gentle faced in the Reliefs for the Marquette building.  This second sculpture cast in 1926 bears a similar resemblance, particular to MacNeil’s conception of Jesuit priest.

The Marquette and Joliette faces of MacNeil’s 1899 bronze reliefs at the Marquette building in the Loop resemble those likenesses he placed in this larger statue grouping of 1926. {The priest did seem to lose some hair in the 27 year interval.}

The Marquette and Joliette faces of MacNeil's 1899 bronze reliefs at the Marquette building in the Loop resemble those likenesses he placed in this larger statue grouping of 1926. {The priest did seem to lose some hair in the 27 year interval.}

MacNeil's Jolliete image of 1926.

We can thank the B F Ferguson Monument Fund, now administered by the Art Institute of Chicago, for its ongoing completion of Mr Ferguson’s vision of an art-full Chicago.  The MacNeil work comes from the earliest quarter century of the Fund’s comissions, and represents a heroic style of commemoration common to the era.

Only by standing before the sculpture can its massive scale and detail be appreciated as it towers over the boulevards.   This reminder of history and the heroic figures was central to the early wish of BF Ferguson in his 1905 bequest to the Arts in Chicago.

[mappress]

Only by standing before the sculpture can its massive scale and detail be appreciated as it towers over the boulevards. Our trip was a satisfying success as our daughter took our pictures at the foot of the Monument.

Comments

  1. Ruth,
    Thanks for the compliments about the website. I would like to know more about your book. I plan to write on MacNeil in the coming year.
    Did you find the Marquette coverage on my website of any assistance?

    Last time I visited the MacNeil’s Marquette group on Douglas Blvd in Chicago is was decorated with ‘urban spray tags.’
    Do you mention Hermon MacNeil’s bas relief panels on the Marquette Building?
    He and Charles Francis Brown had a studio in the Marquette Building after the 1893 Chicago Fair.
    Don’t get me started ….
    Glad you like my journey into American Renaissance sculpture.
    Dan Leininger

  2. Ruth Nelson says:

    This is an amazing site! And you’ve done a great service for those who want to learn more about American sculptors from the turn of the last century. If you’re interested in MacNeil’s Marquette sculpture in context, they’re included in my book “Searching for Marquette” recently published by Marquette University Press.

    Thank you for your exhaustive study.
    Best wishes,
    Ruth Nelson

  3. webmaster says:

    Photo images by Jyoti of MacNeil’s Sun Vow also were removed.

  4. webmaster says:

    All photographic images taken by you, of the MacNeil Sculptures at the Marquette Building have been removed from the website.
    They have been replaced with Photos taken by myself.

    webmaster

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